Due to an ice storm, we lost power for three days. The electricity came back last night, and the house is now up to normal temperatures. I took pictures of the ice but haven't looked at them yet because I was conserving my laptop battery. For the same reason, I haven't yet responded to comments on blog posts. I gained a lot of experience in pioneer living. Maybe my next project will be historical fiction. I wish you a warm and wonderful holiday.
mail included a postcard that read “That thing you are writing is awesome!” The
return address was SANTA, handwritten in block letters. For a second, I thought
one of my writing friends had sent some much-needed encouragement. Then I
realized the postcard was an advertisement from a tutoring service in Ann Arbor.
experience made me realize two things.
needs a boost. People (myself included) don’t acknowledge friends’ talents and
accomplishments often enough.
praise and vague criticism are not helpful. People (myself included) should be
as specific as possible in both praise and writing critiques.
The ice formation on the left looks like a hummingbird to me.
Confession: I adjusted the contrast on this one.
I wore what I call grocery-store-gloves, the little knit one-size-fits-all gloves, under my mittens, then removed the mittens to use the camera. I was able to adjust the settings on my camera while wearing the thin gloves, and my fingers were only a little chilled. Some of my artist friends wear silk glove liners when sketching in the cold. I may try those as well.
I’m off to the café of a local independent bookstore to have a writing day with
at least one member of my critique group. These writing days are invariably
productive. Sitting across from hard-working people tends to keep my brain on
task. Also, going to a different writing location not only removes household
distractions but somehow inspires new ideas.
currently working on a hard-copy revision. I print my novel then correct it
with a red pen. Some problems are more obvious on the printed page than on the
screen. I hope to get through the last third of the manuscript today.
beats firsthand experience for writing authentic sensory details. I know of two
authors who walked barefoot in the snow, one who slurped raw turtle eggs, and
another learned how to fire a flintlock rifle.
my novel, my protagonist must crawl through a tunnel while wearing a long
skirt. The scene needed details. I considered crawling through a plastic tube
on a kids’ climbing apparatus, but those tunnels are significantly bigger than
the one in my novel. I constructed a small tunnel by balancing a sofa cushion
over a chair arm and an end table. I put on my one long skirt and made the
crawl. My first discovery was I couldn’t make it through on my hands and knees.
I had to drop down to my elbows. My protagonist’s sleeves would get wet and
dirty. Then my lower back hit the top, so I had to slide forward in almost a
combat crawl. Her poor outfit! Then the knot I’d tied in the skirt to keep it
out of the way came undone. Of course my furniture construction project was a cushier
option than the stone tunnel facing my main character, but the details still helped
me improve the scene.
I opened my manuscript
and selected a bit less than a page then checked the word count. After a few tries,
I discovered that 249-words landed at the end of a sentence. Then I copied and pasted
that section into a new file and tried to imagine myself as an agent or editor
reading it cold. I asked these questions.
opening compelling? How
many characters appear in the first 250 words? Is
it clear who these characters are and what their relationships are? Is
the reader given a clue about the novel’s main problem? Is
the genre of the novel obvious? Can
the reader tell where the scene takes place?
is a lot to be answered on a single page. Certainly the most important consideration
is having a compelling opening.
answers are: The
first paragraph still needs work. 4 Yes Maybe
Deborah Halverson is having a contest on her blog, DearEditor.com. The winner gets a free 10-page critique. The contest is for any type of fiction. Deborah's presentation at the fall SCBWI-MI retreat received rave reviews. I wish I'd been able to attend.
I never do NaNoWriMo. Most Novembers, I use the excuse that I'm in the middle of revising, but I have other reasons.
I trust my process. I write by working every day, unless I’m ill, traveling or
extremely busy. Writing every day is a luxury, and I cherish it. Churning out a
specific word count daily would make writing a chore.
there are good and bad writing days. In the end, word counts are irrelevant. One
great sentence can make a good writing day. Cutting a few thousand words can make
a better one.
I’m not much of a joiner. I wish all the participants of NaNoWriMo luck,
inspiration and great writing days. It’s just not for me.
I learned this morning that a country western group,
Restless Road, advanced to the final four in the Groups division on X-Factor.
Zach Beeken, the bass voice in Restless Road, went to high school with Jeremy.
They sang together in Chorale and Men's Chorale. Jeremy used to take voice lessons from Zach Beeken's dad.
are two links to valuable blog posts on writing. Both were suggested by the
amazing Shutta Crum on the SCBWI-MI listserv.
Writer Unboxed post by Lisa Cron explains how to trace your protagonist’s inner
journey. The first time I read it, I stopped in despair at the words, “What
they end up with is a narrative that’s basically just a bunch of things that
happen.” I went back, read the article again and mapped my protagonist’s inner
journey. Yes, she does change. As I revise, I can strengthen that.
LaurieHalse Anderson’s post called Revision Roadmap is my next project. Anderson
describes how to make a scene-by-scene roadmap of a novel, and ways to detect
problems like unnecessary scenes, excessive dialog, misplaced subplots and
pacing problems. My novel has already experienced a lot of cutting and
significant expansion. Perhaps it’s time to see if it works.
a discussion of science jokes with a group of friends, I mentioned that the asymptote
is the mathematical model for my writing career. It’s a joke many people don’t
Merriam Webster’s definition of asymptote is "a straight line
associated with a curve such that as a point moves along an infinite branch of
the curve the distance from the point to the line approaches zero and the slope
of the curve at the point approaches the slope of the line,"
In other words, the
curve approaches the line, gets infinitely close to it, yet never crosses it.
person asked about the origin of the word. Asymptote likely comes from Greek
asymptōtos not meeting, from a- + sympiptein to
meet.” (also Merriam Webster)
my surprise, I discovered Merriam Webster lists rhyming words. I don’t write in
rhyme, but consider the possibilities of billy goat, sticky note, or even
quarter note. Here’s Merriam Webster’s list:
promised to post about the Value Added aspect of going through Donald Maass’
Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook. First let me say the exercises are
extremely useful. They also require thought, time and hard
the exercises, Maass includes a page or two of explanatory material in which he
explains his ideas and illustrates them with passages from novels. Usually when
reading these passages, I realize that my novel could use a passage that is
similar in some way. Character B never explains exactly how Character D makes
him feel, or Character A needs a stronger reaction to [plot event], or
Characters A and E need to have a bigger argument. I write all these ideas on a separate page, and when the exercises get too challenging, I go back and
write these scenes.
home from Boston and adjusting to a quieter lifestyle. A metal band no longer
rehearses in our basement.
I’ve started a revision-read-aloud of my
work-in-progress to improve voice and writing flow. When I’m done, I’ll do the
exercises in Writing the Breakout Novel Workbookby Donald Maass. These
exercises are useful for increasing tension and developing character. The value
added part is going through the workbook often generates additional, unrelated
ideas. I hope next week, I’ll share some of that in this blog.
a moment of weakness, I ordered 400 bulbs for my garden. To prepare the beds
for ipheion, chionodoxa and anemones, I sprinkle a dried blood product that is
supposed to deter voles and mice then add generous amounts of crushed oyster
shells to provide calcium and make tunneling unpleasant. After I bury the
bulbs, I cover the beds with hardware cloth to keep squirrels from digging. It
might work. I’m also planting allium which is related to garlic. Wild creatures
aren’t supposed to like the flowers or the bulbs.
finish, I’ll share a cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" that explains string theory.
One of the local chipmunks likes to perch on our solar lights. I've been trying to get a good picture, but it's difficult because I have to shoot through a window, and the subject is shy. Here's my best attempt so far. I'll keep trying to get a better face profile.
If I straightened the solar light poles, he'd have a more comfortable seat.